Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was accused of the most lurid sexual misconduct yet as Senate Republicans pressed ahead with plans to hold a Thursday hearing that would let the GOP push him toward confirmation as early as next week.
The new accuser said Kavanaugh took part in efforts during high school to get girls intoxicated so that a group of boys could have sex with them. Kavanaugh rejected the latest claim Wednesday as “ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone.”
President Donald Trump attacked the accuser’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, on Twitter as “a third rate lawyer who is good at making false accusations” and as a “total low-life!” Avenatti also represents Stephanie Clifford, the adult film star known as Stormy Daniels who says she had an affair with Trump before he was elected president.
“I think it’s really working out very well,” Trump told reporters later in New York. “I think people are seeing what a disgrace these Democrat senators are.” Asked whether Kavanaugh’s three accusers are lying, Trump said, “What’s your next question?”
The Judiciary panel has scheduled a vote for Friday on Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been preparing a weekend session of the full chamber to run the procedural clock out, an unusual move reflecting the high stakes and the desire to let GOP senators campaign on Kavanaugh’s confirmation in the November election.
Republicans hold a 51-49 advantage in the Senate and can’t afford more than one defection to ensure confirmation without Democratic support.
Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, a Republican who may be one of the critical votes on confirmation, said on the Senate floor Wednesday, “I don’t believe that Dr. Ford is part of some vast conspiracy from start to finish to smear Judge Kavanaugh.” He added, “I do not believe that Judge Kavanaugh is some kind of serial sexual predator.”
Another pivotal Republican, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, said she’s studying the new allegation. “I want the committee investigators to contact the woman and invite her to do a formal deposition,” she said, adding that she doesn’t know whether she would want a public hearing.
The new accuser, Julie Swetnick of Washington, said she witnessed efforts by Kavanaugh, his friend Mark Judge and others “to cause girls to become inebriated and disoriented so they could then be ‘gang raped’ in a side room or bedroom by a ‘train’ of numerous boys.”
“I have a firm recollection of seeing boys lined up outside rooms at many of these parties waiting for their ‘turn’ with a girl inside the room,” Swetnick said in a sworn affidavit released by Avenatti. “These boys included Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh,” she added. Judge was a high school classmate of Kavanaugh.
Kavanaugh rejected the latest claim Wednesday in a statement released by the White House, saying, “I don’t know who this is and this never happened.”
All 10 Democrats on the Judiciary Committee called on Trump in a statement to withdraw Kavanaugh’s nomination or order an FBI investigation into all allegations against him.
Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, a Democrat on the panel, said Swetnick’s allegations are “absolutely breathtaking — a gut punch” and added, “If my Republican colleagues have any sense of morality, they will refuse to move forward with Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.”
Roe v. Wade
Seating Kavanaugh on the nation’s top court — or not seating him — could affect the fight for control of Congress in the Nov. 6 election. Republicans are looking for Kavanaugh to cement a conservative majority on the court, while Democrats say he could provide the fifth vote to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley said Thursday’s hearing will go forward, centering on a claim by California college professor Christine Blasey Ford that Kavanaugh held her down and tried to take her clothes off at a house party when they were in high school.
Regarding the new allegation, Grassley told reporters, “we have had accusation after accusation after accusation.” He added, “Obviously with this one we have a contact and our lawyers are on it right now.”
Asked whether another hearing might be scheduled on the new claims, Grassley said, “You’ll have to ask me that question” after Thursday’s hearing.
In prepared testimony to the Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh said he “categorically and unequivocally” denied Ford’s allegations. “I have never done that to her or to anyone. I am innocent of this charge.”
Kavanaugh called other allegations against him “last-minute smears” and “grotesque and obvious character assassination.”
‘False and Uncorroborated’
“Over the past few days, other false and uncorroborated accusations have been aired,” Kavanaugh said in the statement. He said that in high school he drank beer with his friends and “sometimes I had too many. In retrospect, I said and did things in high school that make me cringe now.”
But he added, “What I’ve been accused of is far more serious than juvenile misbehavior. I never did anything remotely resembling what Dr. Ford describes.”
A third woman, Deborah Ramirez, claims Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a drunken party when they were freshmen at Yale University.
Swetnick, in her statement, that she was a victim of one of a group attack in the early 1980s and that Kavanaugh and Judge had been present, though she did not say whether they had sex with her. “I believe I was drugged using Quaaludes or something similar placed in what I was drinking,” she said in the statement.
Kavanaugh’s claim during a Fox News interview Monday that he was a virgin until “many years” after high school was “absolutely false and a lie,” Swetnick said. She added, “I witnessed Brett Kavanaugh consistently engage in excessive drinking and inappropriate contact of a sexual nature with women during the early 1980s.”
“I also witnessed Brett Kavanaugh behave as a ‘mean drunk’ on many occasions at these parties,” Swetnick said.
In other instances, she said in the affidavit, Kavanaugh and Judge made efforts to cause girls “to become inebriated and disoriented so they could then be ‘gang raped’ in a side room or bedroom by a ‘train’ of numerous boys.”
The allegation comes one day before Kavanaugh is set to testify at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing along with another accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, who says Kavanaugh held her down and tried to take her clothes off when they were in high school.
Kavanaugh has denied Ford’s accusation as well as another from a former Yale University classmate who said he exposed himself to her at a drunken party. He has said, “I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone in high school or otherwise.”